Unfortunately, that’s only true if you believe in it.
Which doesn’t exactly help on my own quest. Ah, yes, spend all my money and resources crafting priceless beans and I get nothing for them. I can’t prove they work, there’s no reverting the beans to what they were. There’s no undoing that kind of damage.
And all I wanted was a damned cow.
The last town even tossed me out as being a heretic. Now I’m stuck in the middle of the country, no one to even attempt to sell these things to. Just my cane and the rough ground irritating my ankle. If they only knew. What ignorant, lowly —!
My ankle twists as it lands on a stone, pain jolting up my leg as it crumples beneath me. I grab out, knowing my arms are too weak to catch me, knowing my skull will smash along the rocks and all of my work will come to an end.
A hand grabs my shoulder, supporting me.
“Are you all right, mister?”
A boy, maybe ten or twelve stands before me, mousy hair nearly grey, more skin and bones than I am. How on earth is he the one holding me up?
I straighten up, brush myself off and eye him. Has word of me not traveled this far? And… he has a cow with him.
“Where are you going, boy?” I shake off his arm, take a step back. “And what’s your name?”
“Jack’s the name,” He takes off his ragged hat, giving a small bow. “Are you all right?”
I wave my hand, “Yes, yes, but what are you doing with that cow of yours?”
His eyebrows bull together, glancing between me and the cow. “Well, I’m heading off to market to sell her. She isn’t producing milk anymore, she’s useless —”
“Never call a cow useless, Jack. It’s lucky I’ve met you, I may save you the trip into town. Now,” Trying to keep the grin from spreading across my face, I reach into my pocket, grab the small lump there, “do you know what this is?”
He glances at my palm, those worry wrinkles dug deep into his young face growing. “It’s… a bean, right?”
Resisting the urge to roll my eyes into my head, I say, “Smart boy. Yes, beans, but they’re the most wonderful beans that ever were known. If you plant them overnight, by the next morning they’ll grow up and reach the sky. But to save you the trouble of going all the way to market, I don’t mind exchanging them for that cow of yours.”
Finally, something breaks through his worry. His eyes light up, widen. “A magic bean?”
“Yes, dear boy.” The last one from my last experiment. “All for an elderly cow. That’s it.”
“Done!” He nearly jumps as he hands over the cow’s lead, grabbing the bean. “Thank you mister!”
And just like that, he skips off. Really? Not so much as a question? No matter. A boy couldn’t do that much damage with one of those beans. No, not like all the stalks in my field, not like the field of universes and worlds that they all lead to. But not to the one I want.
Patting the old girl on the head, I start to lead her back, away from Jack and his one bean. There’s a slight guilt for what I’ve done, yes, but not enough to stop me. I’m so close to finding the right stalk, so near to opening that door again. This cow will be pampered and primped, fed the leaves of my stalks and, a fortnight from now, she’ll be ready. I’ll take my clippers, and I’ll shave her hooves, and in that overgrown nail will be a bean, tough as iron, that may finally lead me to the right place.
To my giant.